Home > BZP - information exchange, risk assessment and control measures.

Long, Jean (2007) BZP - information exchange, risk assessment and control measures. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 23, Autumn 2007 , p. 21.

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On 12 December 2006, the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) requested each national focal point to complete a questionnaire recording the use of 1-benzlpiperaxine (BZP) in their country. The questionnaire allows formal exchange of information between member countries and the EMCDDA. 

In Ireland the questionnaire was completed by the Alcohol and Drug Research Unit (ADRU) of the Health Research Board, and the Forensic Science Laboratory. The ADRU collated what was known about BZP in Ireland through literature, website and newspaper searches. The Forensic Science Laboratory reported the number of BZP seizures and described their contents. 

BZP is not classified as a controlled drug and does not come under Ireland’s Misuse of Drugs Act 1977. According to media reports, BZP is sold on the street outside major dance and music venues as well as in ‘head/smart shops’, often marketed as a ‘legal alternative to ecstasy’ and other stimulants, and purportedly sold only to people aged 18 or over. Recent newspaper reports indicate that the price of a BZP tablet in these shops ranges from €6.00 to €8.50. The Forensic Science Laboratory analysed samples from four BZP seizures in 2006. 

A Europol–EMCDDA joint report1 cited a New Zealand ‘National household survey of legal party pill use’ (2006) involving 2,010 respondents aged 13–45. This survey found that the psychological problems most often experienced following legal party pill use were ‘trouble sleeping’ (50.4%), ‘loss of energy’ (18.4%), ‘strange thoughts’ (15.6%), ‘mood swings’ (14.8%), ‘confusion’ (12.1%) and ‘irritability’ (11.4%). The physical problems most often experienced were ‘poor appetite’ (41.1%), ‘hot/cold flushes’ (30.6%), ‘heavy sweating’ (23.4%), ‘stomach pains/nausea’ (22.2%), ‘headaches’ (21.9%) and ‘tremors and shakes’ (18.4%). A recent New Zealand Medical Journal article described 80 BZP-related emergency department admissions occurring at Christchurch Hospital over a six-month period in 2005. The authors concluded that BZP can cause unpredictable and serious poisoning in some cases, and advised that people who have illnesses associated with seizures or heart disease should avoid using it. BZP was found in the body fluids of a small number of people who died in Malta, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK. Other stimulants and drugs were also present in these body fluids, making it difficult to determine the exact role of BZP in each fatality. 

The information collated by Europol and the EMCDDA indicated that the health and social risks caused by the use and manufacture of, and traffic in, BZP, as well as the involvement of organised crime and possible consequences of control measures, could be thoroughly assessed by means of the risk assessment procedure outlined in Article 6 of Council Decision 2005/387/JHA. 

On 30 May 2007, the Scientific Committee of the EMCDDA completed a risk assessment for BZP. ‘The overall conclusion of the Committee was that due to its stimulant properties, risk to health and the lack of medical benefits, there is a need to control BZP. However, the Committee felt that the control measures should be appropriate to the relatively low risks of the substance.’2 

On foot of a proposal presented by the Commission to the European Council on 17 July 2007, the Council issued its decision that ‘Member States shall take the necessary measures, in accordance with their national law, to submit [BZP] to control measures, proportionate to the risks of the substance, and criminal penalties, as provided for under their legislation …’ (COM(2007) 430 final).    

1. Europol–EMCDDA Joint report on a new psychoactive substance: 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP) (2007) http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/?nnodeID=16775   Accessed 21 June 2007.

2. CORDROGUE 35 10458/07 - Risk assessment report of a new psychoactive substance: 1-benzylpiperazine (BZP). In accordance with Article 6 of Council Decision 2005/387/JHA on information exchange, risk assessment and control of new psychoactive substances.

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 23, Autumn 2007
Date:July 2007
Page Range:p. 21
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 23, Autumn 2007
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:MM-MO Crime and law > Substance related offence > Drug offence > Illegal drug possession (seizures)
B Substances > CNS stimulants > BZP (Benzylpiperazine) (other piperazines)
VA Geographic area > Europe

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